Dyslexia Resources, Research & Studies

What is dyslexia?

If you are concerned that your child may be dyslexic, we can assure you of this: he or she is not alone. It is estimated that 20% of the American population - or one out of every five boys and girls - has some form of learning disability. Of these, dyslexia is the most common.

Dyslexia affects a child’s acquisition of the skills necessary to read easily and competently. The problem typically manifests itself in what educators call “oral language processing related to phonological awareness.” This means that the child has diminished skill in deciphering letter patterns and developing “word attack” skills. The child with dyslexia will often experience difficulties with spelling and writing, too. Even numbers may pose a problem. It is not uncommon for children with dyslexia to reverse or invert their number forms.

Signs of Dyslexia

From Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.

Signs of Dyslexia in Preschool

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill”
  • Difficulty learning (and remembering) the names of letters in the alphabet
  • Seems unable to recognize letters in his/her own name
  • Mispronounces familiar words; persistent “baby talk”
  • Doesn’t recognize rhyming patterns like catbatrat
  • A family history of reading and/or spelling difficulties (dyslexia often runs in families)

© Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia, p. 122

Signs of Dyslexia in Kindergarten & 1st Grade

  • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page—will say “puppy” instead of the written word “dog” on an illustrated page with a picture of a dog
  • Does not understand that words come apart
  • Complains about how hard reading is; “disappears” when it is time to read
  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings
  • Cannot sound out even simple words like catmapnap
  • Does not associate letters with sounds, such as the letter b with the “b” sound
  • Curiosity
  • Great imagination
  • Ability to figure things out; gets the gist of things
  • Eager embrace of new ideas
  • A good understanding of new concepts
  • Surprising maturity
  • A larger vocabulary than typical for age group
  • Enjoys solving puzzles
  • Talent for building models
  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him

© Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia, pp. 122 – 123

Signs of Dyslexia in 2nd Grade, Elementary, Middle and High School

  • Very slow in acquiring reading skills. Reading is slow and awkward
  • Trouble reading unfamiliar words, often making wild guesses because he cannot sound out the word
  • Doesn’t seem to have a strategy for reading new words
  • Avoids reading out loud
  • Searches for a specific word and ends up using vague language, such as “stuff” or “thing,” without naming the object
  • Pauses, hesitates, and/or uses lots of “um’s” when speaking
  • Confuses words that sound alike, such as saying “tornado” for “volcano,” substituting “lotion” for “ocean”
  • Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar or complicated words
  • Seems to need extra time to respond to questions
School and Life
  • Trouble remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, random lists
  • Struggles to finish tests on time
  • Extreme difficulty learning a foreign language
  • Poor spelling
  • Messy handwriting
  • Low self-esteem that may not be immediately visible
  • Excellent thinking skills: conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction
  • Learning that is accomplished best through meaning rather than rote memorization
  • Ability to get the “big picture”
  • A high level of understanding of what is read to him
  • The ability to read and to understand at a high level overlearned (or highly practiced) words in a special area of interest; for example, if he or she loves cooking they may be able to read food magazines and cookbooks
  • Improvement as an area of interest becomes more specialized and focused—and a miniature vocabulary is developed that allows for reading in that subject area
  • A surprisingly sophisticated listening vocabulary
  • Excels in areas not dependent on reading, such as math, computers and visual arts, or in more conceptual (versus fact-driven) subjects, including philosophy, biology, social studies, neuroscience and creative writing

© Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia, pp. 123–125

Dyslexia Testing and EvaluationS

Dyslexia Testing & Evaluation Tips and Helpful Info from International Dyslexia Association

Dyslexia Evaluation Overview from the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

Types of Tests for Dyslexia from Understood.org

Our commitment to dyslexia research

Carroll’s academic leadership team has been studying ways to respond to the recent explosion of research in neuroplasticity. Today’s premise is that it is the duty of effective educators to work to improve the cognitive functions of our students. We see it as our responsibility to develop logical reasoning, information processing skills, working memory, and visual thinking in our students.

Our charge is to bridge the gap between research and educational practice to more comprehensively meet the academic needs of Carroll students. To do this, we constantly identify the unmet learning needs of Carroll students, research and develop state-of-the-art approaches, rigorously evaluate novel approaches in pilot studies, and integrate the most promising teaching methods into the Carroll curriculum. We also partner with academic institutions and others to combine resources and to disseminate our discoveries to the broader educational community.

Targeted Cognitive Intervention (White Paper)

How can cognitive neuroscience inform educational practice? The implications of a cognitive-neuroscientific framework of reading in the brain.


A Novel Approach to Improving Reading Fluency

John D.E. Gabrieli, research partner at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discusses how Targeted Cognitive Intervention is improving reading fluency in struggling readers.


Steve Wilkins Discusses Targeted Cognitive Intervention at TEDxBabsonCollege

Dyslexia Books

From Steve Wilkins' Recommended Book List on Amazon

Overcoming Dyslexia

Overcoming Dyslexia, Shaywitz and Shaywitz — Start your reading about dyslexia with this book. These Yale researchers have written the primer for all of us in the field, including inquisitive parents.

The Dyslexic Advantage

The Dyslexic Advantage, Eide and Eide — The most recently published of all these books, the Eides present evidence that there is a distinct advantage to the dyslexic profile.


Mindset, Dweck — A growth mindset is essential for working successfully with children who learn differently. This book describes a constructive mindset for thinking differently about alleged problems and disabilities.

Proust and the Squid

Proust and the Squid, Wolf — A wonderful historical perspective on how it came to be the humans can read and why some human brains struggle with reading.

The Learning Brain

The Learning Brain, Klingberg — An accessible book (2013) written with good stories and examples of how the human brain learns. Klingberg explains the relationship among dyslexia, working memory, and executive function with stunning clarity.

Number Sense and Number Nonsense

Number Sense and Number Nonsense, Krasa and Shankwiler — This book provides the research basis for establishing an effective math education program for children with language based learning difficulties.

The Number Sense

The Number Sense, deHaene — This edition is the 2011 update of Dehaene’s original 1996 seminal book on math learning and the human brain.

Reading in the Brain

Reading in the Brain, deHaene — A brilliant, if complex, analysis of the neural mechanisms essential for developing an efficient reading brain. deHaene describes the dyslexic brain in elegant detail.

Thinking Goes to School

Thinking Goes to School, Furth and Wachs — Cognitive development refers to the ability of the human brain to strengthen underlying weaknesses; this book provides the theoretical framework for much of the Cognitive Development program in the Lower School.

Upcoming Info Sessions